Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cranberry Malabi


December slipped in when I wasn’t looking. Last week, Thanksgiving was a cozy blur of happy times with Sam home from college, football, good food, and celebrating with family and friends. And now we’re nearing the end of another festive holiday, Hanukkah. I can’t keep up!


Before I flip my calendar page to December, I want to share with you what we were cooking with for Tasting Jerusalem in November. Pistachios! Pistachios are quite popular in Middle Eastern cooking and baking. The best baklava I ever tasted was a version with green pistachios at the Abulafia Bakery in Tel Aviv. Truly a decadent treat. Another delicious sweet that I enjoyed while in Israel was malabi, a milk-based pudding. There are several names for this luscious custard, including muhallabieh (as it’s called in Jerusalem), sutlaj or sutlach. No matter what it’s called, it’s creamy and wonderful and I can eat it by the bowlful.


When I spotted the recipe in Jerusalem, I knew I had to make it. Traditionally, malabi is flavored with rose water and topped with a drizzle of sweet syrup and pistachios. Since I had Thanksgiving flavors on my mind when I was dreaming about a dish of malabi, I came up with a variation using cranberries and maple syrup as a topping and swapped out the rose water for vanilla. I also used cream in place of water with the milk, making it rather like a rich panna cotta. The pudding here is made with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and cornstarch and whisked together over heat until smooth and custardy (this happens quickly, so be sure to remove from heat the moment it thickens to avoid lumps).


For the topping, I stirred together fresh cranberries (such pretty little jewels!) and maple syrup over medium heat until the berries were bursting and bubbling away. Both the pudding and topping can be made ahead and chilled before layering. I spooned the pudding into wine and champagne glasses for an elegant dessert and then topped each with a smooth layer of the cranberries and a scatter of chopped pistachios.


The bright, tart flavor of the cranberries contrasts nicely with the creamy sweetness of the pudding, while the pistachios add crunchy texture. The cheery red and white colors make this a merry dessert for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, too.  And with the frigid cold we’re having outside now, I don’t need any reminders that December has indeed arrived!


Cranberry Malabi
Serves 6
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook
By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

For the pudding, whisk the cornstarch together with 6 tablespoons of the milk until it forms a paste. In a saucepan, stir together the rest of the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla and warm it over medium heat until it begins to steam. Whisk in the milk/cornstarch paste and keep stirring until it turns to custard. I found this happened very quickly, so be ready to pull it off the heat. Pour the pudding into 6 pretty glasses or dishes. It’s nice to use clear glass so you can see the contrast in colors. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.

For the topping, stir the cranberries and maple syrup together in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. The berries will start popping, so stir often to prevent sticking and mash them gently against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and chill.

Both the pudding and sauce can be made the day before. When ready to serve, divide the sauce between the 6 custards and gently smooth. Garnish each with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios and serve.

22 comments:

  1. Malabi is such a nice dessert:) But I prefer it as a vegan version,with coconut milk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jael, I love using coconut milk in desserts and will try it this way the next time I make malabi! Thank you for the suggestion. Happy Hanukkah to you!

      Delete
  2. I love this Hannah. Sometimes for a simple appetizer at Thanksgiving, I just put dried cranberries and pistachios together in a bowl - so pretty to look at and yummy to eat. This makes so much sense and is a wonderful variation fitting for the season. I did, by the way, serve Blue Kale Road maple roasted nuts this year instead :-) Thanks for another lovely Tasting Jerusalem post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you, Beth! You made me smile. I'm so happy you made the maple roasted nuts, too. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed being part of the Tasting Jerusalem community. Hard to believe that almost a year has gone by! It seems like yesterday that I was making the braised eggs with lamb for the start of our group. Let's hope 2014 is the year we connect in person! xx

      Delete
  3. Great dish! And not one we've made before. Gotta try this - love the use of cranberry in it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, John! It really is a comforting treat. I find it hard to resist custard in any form!

      Delete
  4. So decadent Hannah and those photos are gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Alyssa! It really is a decadent little treat. Hope you're enjoying a festive holiday season! xx

      Delete
  5. Wow, Hannah--what a unique spin on this recipe! This sounds like a wonderful holiday dessert!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Brianne! I'll be making malabi again soon - it is an elegant, yet comforting, treat. I hope you're having a fun holiday season so far!

      Delete
  6. This looks so delicious, Hannah! Happy Thanksgiving and Chanukah. I love pistachios. And you're right, cranberries are so beautiful. This dessert incorporates a bunch of my favorite flavors into one pudding. Just lovely. Another Jerusalem hit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Amanda! This has been such a fun, delicious year cooking from Jerusalem. I'm delighted to have made malabi and will be doing so again soon. I hope you enjoyed a festive, happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

      Delete
  7. Lovely and so different - a refreshing alternative for using cranberries!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynda! I'm loving all the cranberries right now. I hope you're enjoying a fun holiday season!

      Delete
  8. What a scrumptious and festive dessert! The cranberries and pistachios just scream Christmas to me!
    BTW: Winter has arrived in the valley and along the coast with below freezing temps! If it rains this weekend mountain peaks around the valley will get a dusting of snow :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Deb! I hope you're enjoying the change in seasons and a bit of winter fun. Stay warm and cozy!

      Delete
  9. I love malabi, its so delicious, I really like your version with the cranberry topping and the extra richness from the heavy cream. I may just make an egg nog version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, Suzanne...an eggnog version of malabi sounds unbelievable. We're big fans of eggnog around here! My son's girlfriend made us a batch of homemade and it's such an incredible indulgence. Hope you're enjoying this festive season!

      Delete
  10. This does indeed look like a delicious dessert to serve after a holiday meal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! I hope you're having some snowy fun during this festive season. Merry Christmas to you!

      Delete
  11. Well isn't that the prettiest thing?! It looks just perfect for this time of year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Brooke! I just love this festive time of year. I hope you're having lots of holiday fun with your boys - maybe even some snow if the forecast holds!

      Delete